Monthly Archives: June 2013

Melbourne June 2013 – Upper Ferntree Gully PS


Wed June 12, 2013

A whirlwind visit to Upper Ferntree Gully Primary School in the morning, two x 1 hr sessions with Grades 5/6, thanks to their awesome art teacher Nikki Ashman!  We focused on facial expressions, the kids were wonderful, really engaged with the process and articulated some great ideas about emotions.


Whenever I commence a workshop, there’s inevitably an atmosphere of either a) nervous anticipation b) unbridled enthusiasm c) apathy – and I personally love observing how the dynamics of the group shift as the kids and I begin our little foray……and in this session, the ice was resolutely broken by the girl who (once I had begun drawing) pronounced – “You are LEGIT!!” (abbr. – “legitimate”) – an apparently new terminology to indicate that something is not only Awesome but the Real Deal!   I love those moments……(and I wonder if “legit” is a response to the current age of digital manipulations, media hoaxes, photoshopped everything and other hi-tech conjuring tricks…)


Some other great feedback from Nikki and her students:




“Thank you for the workshops. The kids have been raving about it for the last few days. They came away feeling very confident with the outcomes of their drawings to the point were they are now drawing their own styles and showing me every chance they get!”  Nikki Ashman, art teacher

“I felt very confident with my drawings, I feel I can come up with my own cartoons now” – Tyson, Grade 5/6

“I loved the different face designs and creating new expressions” – Olivia, Grade 5/6


“Students developed a new found confidence. The tasks enabled each child to achieve a successful drawing by the end of the workshop and the skills to carry on and create their own cartoons. Bradfield is funny and engaging, students really enjoyed working with him.”
Nikki Ashman, art teacher


I first visited this school in February 2013 – Knox Council (who I have worked with for nearly a decade – see Gallery) commissioned me to run a series of design-based workshops in primary schools in the Knox Shire, as a lead-up to the Schools Banner Competition, a component of the annual Knox Community Arts Festival.  All schools in the Knox area are invited to design and paint a large banner reflecting the festival theme each year.  My job this year was to talk about & demonstrate a few basic ideas about effective design, meeting a brief etc, to encourage students to think a bit more laterally about the creative process.  Nikki has always encouraged her students to enter the Banner Competition with a lateral approach, and this year the school won the People’s Choice Award – a well-earned result!


Melbourne June 2013 – Yarra Rd PS

YRPS 1Tues June 11 2013 – Landed in Melbourne from Tasmania on the ferry first thing in the morning (boat-lagged!) for a two-week teaching binge, and headed straight over to Yarra Rd Primary School in Nth Croydon to spend a fantastic day catching up again with Grades 3 – 6.  But first….

Rewind to March of this year:  principal Kate Perkins (dear friend & significant teaching mentor to me back in the 90s) asked me to do a week-long Artist In Residence at Yarra Rd PS, running the Creative Communication workshops from Kinders to 6.  The week was a fantastic success on many levels – apart from being loads of fun, the kids surprised us all with the amount of latent creative talent that suddenly had a forum for expression (given that the school has been largely – and successfully – sports-focused for many years). Kids were running up to me in the playground, eager to show me sketchbooks bursting with the most wonderful drawings.  It was quite an honour!

These sorts of residencies are always a wonderful opportunity for me to also become a part of the school community, the kids get to know me better, and working across all grades helps plant the seeds of a drawing culture within the school.  Not only are kids inspired to share their drawing skills within their grade, but siblings can share the experience as well.  When I first collaborated with Kate in the 90s, she was principal of Pembroke Primary in Mooroolbark (VIC) and she had the same vision of a drawing culture within that school – Kate is passionate about Creativity in Education, and its important links with personal development & well-being.  Kids need creativity!

During this year’s March residency I also ran some lunchtime “masterclasses” for a few small groups of select students, and began some collaborative work with Shirley Robertson, the school’s Student Welfare co-ordinator, to develop some cartoon art that will complement some resources Shirley’s developing about emotional communication & well-being in the school.

This has so far included a series of “Faces” cards, 12 cartoon faces expressing various emotions, which are used with the younger grades to gauge how the kids are feeling from day to day – a kind of open-ended emotional check-in, where the kids can choose a card that represents their current state.  An example:

yarra rd faces001

I’ve also designed a logo for their schoolwide “Mateship Program”, encouraging students to look out for each other, and we’re developing other resources looking at personal space & boundaries.

YPRS matesship logoAnyway, back to Tuesday’s visit:  as soon as I arrived, students greeted me with “Hello Bradfield!” – it was such a lovely feeling to be remembered!  I had Grades 5/6 first up, and we extended on the previous workshops with looking at sequential cartoon art (comic strip) as a way of communicating a simple story without any text ie two characters interacting, and telling their story through their facial expressions.  The kids were fantastic, and we rounded off the sessions with my (almost) famous flipbook technique (more on that elsewhere!).  The rest of the day was with the 3/4s, and we extended on the March workshops, looking at a few simple techniques for getting distance, backgrounds & perspective into a comic strip (see photos below).   I was very impressed with how well the students grasped the concepts and their enthusiasm was incredibly rewarding!

All of which tied in perfectly with the day’s timetabled visual literacy units (an unscheduled synchronicity)!